The Queen (2006 film)

Source: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

The Queen
British theatrical release poster
Directed byStephen Frears
Written byPeter Morgan
Based onDeath of Diana, Princess of Wales
Produced by
Starring
CinematographyAffonso Beato
Edited byLucia Zucchetti
Music byAlexandre Desplat
Production
companies
Distributed byPathé Distribution (France, Switzerland & United Kingdom)
BIM Distribuzione (Italy)[1]
Release dates
  • 2 September 2006 (2006-09-02) (Venice)
  • 15 September 2006 (2006-09-15) (United Kingdom)
  • 18 October 2006 (2006-10-18) (France)
Running time
103 minutes[2]
Countries
  • United Kingdom
  • France
  • Italy
LanguageEnglish
Budget$15 million
Box office$123.5 million[1]

The Queen is a 2006 historical drama film directed by Stephen Frears and written by Peter Morgan. The film depicts the death of Diana, Princess of Wales in 1997. The royal family regards Diana's death as a private affair and thus not to be treated as an official royal death, in contrast with the views of Prime Minister Tony Blair and Diana's ex-husband, Prince Charles, who favour the general public's desire for an official expression of grief. Matters are further complicated by the media, royal protocol regarding Diana's official status, and wider issues about republicanism.

The film's development coincided with a revival of favourable public sentiment in respect to the British monarchy, a downturn in fortunes for Blair, and the inquest into Diana's death, Operation Paget. Michael Sheen reprised his role as Blair from The Deal and he did so again in The Special Relationship.

The Queen garnered widespread critical and popular acclaim for Helen Mirren playing the title role of Queen Elizabeth II.[3] Mirren was praised by the Queen herself and was invited to dinner at Buckingham Palace.[4] However, Mirren declined to attend due to filming commitments in Hollywood.[5]

Plot

The 1997 general election has Tony Blair and the Labour Party elected on a manifesto of reform and modernisation. Less than four months later, Diana, Princess of Wales is killed in a car crash at the Alma Bridge tunnel in Paris.

Immediately, her death presents problems for her former husband, Prince Charles, and the Prime Minister, Tony Blair, to accord the mother of a future king who is no longer a member of the royal family. Queen Elizabeth II wonders if Blair will turn his modernisation pledge on to the royal family since he attempts to have her reconsider her views on the funeral plans. Diana's family, the Spencers, calls for the funeral to be private.

Following a speech in which Blair describes Diana as the "People's Princess" and the adoption of the title by the press, an outpouring of grief by the general public begins in broadcasts and displays of floral tributes so numerous at Buckingham and Kensington Palaces that the main entrances onto the complexes have to be rerouted. The royal family's senior members make no effort to acknowledge Diana's significance to society as the Queen feels that she must comfort and shield her grandsons following the death of their mother, and so remains on holiday at Balmoral. The royal family's popularity plummets, while Blair's approval rises as he responds to the royal family's public outcry of inaction.

Blair's attempts to guide the royal family through the controversy are met with resistance: the Queen describes them as a surrender to public hysteria. Despite the Queen and Prince Philip's indignation toward any sympathy toward Diana or acknowledgment of the country's mourning, he is encouraged by the private secretaries of both the Prince of Wales and the Queen to continue with his attempts to change the attitude of the royal family. As Britain continues its outpouring of grief, Blair attempts to defend the royal family publicly, but his attempts are futile. Blair's compassion earns him overwhelming praise and adoration, while the royal family's indifference earns them fiery condemnation from the people.

As Britain's outrage hits a critical mass, Blair cannot continue to finesse the Queen's refusal to acknowledge Diana and the public. He reveals to her that 70% of the country believes her actions are damaging to the monarchy, and "1 in 4" people are in favour of abolishing the monarchy altogether. Blair adamantly insists that the royal family fly the flag at Buckingham Palace at half-mast, that the Queen pay her respects to Diana and give a public address consoling the country.

Although she is demoralised by the country's reaction and the Prime Minister's suggestions, the Queen comes to realise that the world has changed during her reign. She and Prince Philip return to London despite their disagreement. The Queen finally pays public tribute on live television to Diana's significance to the nation and society and can somewhat quell Britain's agony. The royal family attends the public funeral for Diana at Westminster Abbey.

At Blair's next meeting with the Queen, they exchange views about what has happened since their last meeting, including the controversy surrounding Diana's death and the actions that followed. Then she cautions the prime minister that, just as public opinion has changed about how the royal family should react to a new Britain, so must he as he may very well find himself in the same position of changing public opinion.

Cast

The film uses archival footage of Diana, Princess of Wales, Camilla Parker Bowles, Nicholas Owen, Julia Somerville, Martyn Lewis, Trevor McDonald and John Suchet.

Production

Filming

The screenplay was written by Peter Morgan.[6] It was produced by Pathé Pictures and Granada Productions (ITV Productions). Stephen Frears had a clause in his contract from The Deal that allowed him to direct any follow-ups or sequels, and he was officially announced as director in September 2003.[7] The film was shot on location in the United Kingdom, in England in London, Halton House and Waddesdon Manor, in Buckinghamshire, Brocket Hall in Hertfordshire and in Scotland at Balmoral Castle,[citation needed] Castle Fraser[8] and Cluny Castle[9] in Aberdeenshire, and Blairquhan Castle and Culzean Castle in South Ayrshire.

Set design

The sets were designed by Alan MacDonald, which won him Best Art Direction in a Contemporary Film from the Art Directors Guild and Best Technical Achievement at the British Independent Film Awards.[10]

Portraying the Queen

Mirren says transforming herself into the Queen came almost naturally after the wig and glasses, since she shares a default facial expression—a slightly downturned mouth—with the monarch.[11] She regularly reviewed film and video footage of Elizabeth and kept photographs in her trailer during production.[12] She also undertook extensive voice coaching, faithfully reproducing the Queen's delivery of her televised speech to the world. Morgan has said that her performance was so convincing that, by the end of production, crew members who had been accustomed to slouching or relaxing when they addressed her were standing straight up and respectfully folding their hands behind their backs.[11] Mirren arranged to spend time off-camera with the supporting cast playing other members of the Royal Family, including James Cromwell, Alex Jennings and Sylvia Syms so they would be as comfortable with each other as a real family.[12]

To enhance the contrast of their different worlds, shots involving the Queen were taken in 35mm film and those of Tony Blair in 16mm film.[13]

Television viewership and home media

ITV's role in the production of the film allowed them an option for its television premiere and it was broadcast on 2 September 2007 (coinciding that weekend with a memorial service to Diana) to an average audience of 7.9 million, winning its timeslot.[14][15] The DVD was released in the UK on 12 March 2007. Special features include a making-of featurette and an audio commentary by Stephen Frears, writer Peter Morgan and Robert Lacey, biographer of Queen Elizabeth II. It was released on Blu-ray and DVD in the USA on 24 April 2007 and, as of 2013, US DVD sales had exceeded $29 million.[16]

Historical accuracy

Some aspects of the characters are known to be true to their real-life counterparts. According to Morgan, "cabbage" is an actual term of endearment Philip used for his wife (mon chou – "my cabbage" – is a standard affectionate nickname in French).[11]

Other elements represent characteristics associated with people depicted. The electric guitar seen behind Blair in his personal office is a reference to his past membership in the band Ugly Rumours while a student. The Newcastle United football jersey he wears to a family breakfast is a reference to his support of that team. The film also shows Alastair Campbell coining the term "The People's Princess", but in 2007 he revealed that it was Tony Blair who came up with it.[17]

A notable inaccuracy is that Robin Janvrin is represented as the Queen's private secretary during the aftermath of Diana's death. In fact, that position was then occupied by Janvrin's predecessor, Sir Robert Fellowes; Janvrin was the deputy private secretary until 1999. However, the film is accurate in depicting Janvrin as the person who delivered the news of Diana's accident to the Queen at Balmoral during the night.[18] The change may have been made to avoid confusing the audience by depicting the complicated family relationships involved—[citation needed] Fellowes was, in fact, also Diana's brother-in-law (by his marriage to her sister, Lady Jane Spencer) and is a first cousin of Sarah, Duchess of York.

Reception

Box office

The film exceeded box-office expectations; with a budget of $15 million the film earned $56.4 million in the United States and Canada.[19]

Critical reception

On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 97%, based on 203 reviews, with an average rating of 8.4/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Full of wit, humour and pathos, Stephen Frears' moving portrait looks at life of the British royals during the period after Princess Diana's death."[20] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 91 out of 100, based on 37 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".[21]

Before the film was released, critics praised both Stephen Frears and Peter Morgan, who later received Golden Globe and Academy Award nominations for Best Director and Best Screenplay. Michael Sheen's performance as Tony Blair earned him particular acclaim. Helen Mirren's portrayal, which garnered her acclaim from critics around the world, made her a favourite for the Academy Award for Best Actress well before the film was released in cinemas. After its showing at the Venice Film Festival, Mirren received a five-minute-long standing ovation.[22] Roger Ebert came out of recovery from surgery to give the film a review, in which he called it "spellbinding" and gave it four out of four stars.[23]

Amongst the few negative reviews, Slant Magazine's Nick Schager criticised the insider portraiture of the film as "somewhat less than revelatory, in part because Morgan's script succumbs to cutie-pie jokiness [...] and broad caricature", mentioning particularly "James Cromwell's Prince Philip, who envisions the crowned heads as exiled victims and the gathering crowds as encroaching 'Zulus'".[24]

Accolades

Mirren won in the leading actress category at the Academy Awards, the British Academy Film Awards, the Critics' Choice Movie Awards, the Golden Globe Awards, and the Screen Actors Guild Awards. Mirren also won awards from the Boston Society of Film Critics, the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, the National Board of Review, the National Society of Film Critics, the New York Film Critics Circle, the Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association, and many other awards of which are listed below except she was nominated for at least three more. In most of her acceptance speeches, she expressed her admiration for the real Queen, and dedicated both her Golden Globe and her Oscar to Elizabeth II.

As of 2022, Mirren from The Queen and Forest Whitaker from The Last King of Scotland are the only two lead performances for portraying real-life leaders, and they are the only lead performers to ever sweep the rarest achievements known as "The Big Four" critics awards (LAFCA, NBR, NYFCC, NSFC) as well as win the Oscar, BAFTA, Critics' Choice, Golden Globe, and SAG awards in the same year.

Award Category Nominee(s) Result Ref.
AARP Movies for Grownups Awards Best Movie for Grownups Nominated [25]
Best Director Stephen Frears Nominated
Best Actress Helen Mirren Won
Academy Awards Best Picture Andy Harries, Christine Langan, and Tracey Seaward Nominated [26]
Best Director Stephen Frears Nominated
Best Actress Helen Mirren Won
Best Original Screenplay Peter Morgan Nominated
Best Costume Design Consolata Boyle Nominated
Best Original Score Alexandre Desplat Nominated
African-American Film Critics Association Awards Best Actress Helen Mirren Won
Alliance of Women Film Journalists Awards Best Picture Stephen Frears Won [27]
Best Drama by or About Women Nominated
Best Actress in a Dramatic Performance Helen Mirren Won
American Cinema Editors Awards Best Edited Feature Film – Dramatic Lucia Zucchetti Nominated
Art Directors Guild Awards Excellence in Production Design for a Contemporary Film Alan MacDonald, Peter Wenham, Ben Smith,
Katie Buckley, Tim Monroe, and Franck Schwartz
Nominated [28]
Austin Film Critics Association Awards Top Ten Films 7th Place [29]
Awards Circuit Community Awards Best Actress in a Leading Role Helen Mirren Won
Best Original Screenplay Peter Morgan Nominated
BMI Film & TV Awards Film Music Award Alexandre Desplat Won
Bodil Awards Best Non-American Film Stephen Frears Nominated [30]
Boston Society of Film Critics Awards Best Actress Helen Mirren Won [31]
Best Supporting Actor Michael Sheen Runner-up
Best Screenplay Peter Morgan Runner-up
British Academy Film Awards Best Film Andy Harries, Christine Langan, and Tracey Seaward Won [32]
Outstanding British Film Andy Harries, Christine Langan, Tracey Seaward,
Stephen Frears, and Peter Morgan
Nominated
Best Direction Stephen Frears Nominated
Best Actress in a Leading Role Helen Mirren Won
Best Actor in a Supporting Role Michael Sheen Nominated
Best Original Screenplay Peter Morgan Nominated
Best Costume Design Consolata Boyle Nominated
Best Editing Lucia Zucchetti Nominated
Best Makeup and Hair Daniel Phillips Nominated
Best Original Music Alexandre Desplat Nominated
British Independent Film Awards Best British Independent Film Nominated [33]
Best Director Stephen Frears Nominated
Best Actress Helen Mirren Nominated
Best Screenplay Peter Morgan Won
Best Technical Achievement Alan MacDonald (for production design) Nominated
Daniel Phillips (for makeup) Nominated
Camerimage Golden Frog (Main Competition) Affonso Beato Nominated
Central Ohio Film Critics Association Awards Best Actress Helen Mirren Won [34]
César Awards Best Foreign Film Stephen Frears Nominated [35]
Chicago Film Critics Association Awards Best Picture Nominated [36]
Best Director Stephen Frears Nominated
Best Actress Helen Mirren Won
Best Supporting Actor Michael Sheen Nominated
Best Original Screenplay Peter Morgan Won
Best Original Score Alexandre Desplat Nominated
Chicago International Film Festival Audience Choice Award Stephen Frears Won
Costume Designers Guild Awards Excellence in Contemporary Film Consolata Boyle Won [37]
Critics' Choice Movie Awards Best Picture Nominated [38]
Best Director Stephen Frears Nominated
Best Actress Helen Mirren Won
Best Writer Peter Morgan Nominated
Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association Awards Top 10 Films 4th Place [39]
Best Film Nominated
Best Director Stephen Frears Nominated
Best Actress Helen Mirren Won
Best Supporting Actor Michael Sheen Nominated
David di Donatello Awards Best European Film Stephen Frears Nominated
Directors Guild of America Awards Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures Nominated [40]
Dublin Film Critics Circle Awards Best Actress Helen Mirren Nominated [41]
Empire Awards Best British Film Nominated [42]
Best Actress Helen Mirren Nominated
European Film Awards European Film Nominated [43]
European Director Stephen Frears Nominated
European Actress Helen Mirren Won
European Screenwriter Peter Morgan Nominated
European Composer Alexandre Desplat Won
Prix d'Excellence Lucia Zucchetti (for editing) Nominated
People's Choice Award Nominated
Evening Standard British Film Awards Best Screenplay Peter Morgan (also for The Last King of Scotland) Won
Florida Film Critics Circle Awards Best Actress Helen Mirren Won [44]
Gold Derby Film Awards Best Lead Actress Won [45]
Best Supporting Actor Michael Sheen Won
Best Original Screenplay Peter Morgan Nominated
Best Costume Design Consolata Boyle Nominated
Best Makeup/Hair Daniel Phillips Nominated
Best Original Music Alexandre Desplat Nominated
Golden Eagle Awards Best Foreign Language Film Stephen Frears Won [46]
Golden Globe Awards Best Motion Picture – Drama Nominated [47]
Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama Helen Mirren Won
Best Director – Motion Picture Stephen Frears Nominated
Best Screenplay – Motion Picture Peter Morgan Won
Golden Schmoes Awards Actress of the Year Helen Mirren Nominated [48]
Goya Awards Best European Film Stephen Frears Won [49]
IndieWire Critics Poll Best Lead Performance Helen Mirren Won [50]
Best Supporting Performance Michael Sheen 9th Place
Best Screenplay Peter Morgan Won
International Cinephile Society Awards Best Picture 5th Place [51]
Best Actress Helen Mirren Won
Best Supporting Actor Michael Sheen Won
Best Original Screenplay Peter Morgan Won
Best Original Score Alexandre Desplat (also for The Painted Veil) Won
International Film Music Critics Association Awards Best Original Score for a Drama Film Alexandre Desplat Nominated [52]
International Online Cinema Awards Best Actress Helen Mirren Won
Best Supporting Actor Michael Sheen Nominated
Best Original Screenplay Peter Morgan Won
Best Original Score Alexandre Desplat Nominated
Iowa Film Critics Awards Best Actress style="background: #9EFF9E; color: #000; vertical-align: middle; text-align: center; " class="yes table-yes2 notheme"|Won
Irish Film & Television Awards Best Costume Design Consolata Boyle Won [53]
Best International Actress (People's Choice Award) Helen Mirren Won
Italian Online Movie Awards Best Actress Won
Best Original Screenplay Peter Morgan Nominated
Kansas City Film Critics Circle Awards Best Actress Helen Mirren Won [54]
Best Supporting Actor Michael Sheen Won
Las Vegas Film Critics Society Awards Best Picture 9th Place [55]
Best Actress Helen Mirren Won
London Film Critics Circle Awards Film of the Year Nominated [56]
British Film of the Year Won
British Director of the Year Stephen Frears Won
Actress of the Year Helen Mirren Nominated
British Actress of the Year Won
British Supporting Actress of the Year Helen McCrory Nominated
Screenwriter of the Year Peter Morgan Won
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards Best Picture Runner-up [57]
Best Actress Helen Mirren Won
Best Supporting Actor Michael Sheen Won
Best Screenplay Peter Morgan Won
Best Music Alexandre Desplat (also for The Painted Veil) Won
Movieguide Awards Best Movie for Mature Audiences Won [58]
Nastro d'Argento Best European Director Stephen Frears Nominated
National Board of Review Awards Best Actress Helen Mirren Won [59]
National Society of Film Critics Awards Best Actress Won [60]
Best Screenplay Peter Morgan Won
New York Film Critics Circle Awards Best Film Runner-up [61]
Best Director Stephen Frears Runner-up
Best Actress Helen Mirren Won
Best Screenplay Peter Morgan Won
New York Film Critics Online Awards Top 10 Films Won [62]
Best Film Won
Best Director Stephen Frears Won
Best Actress Helen Mirren Won
Best Supporting Actor Michael Sheen Won
Best Screenplay Peter Morgan Won
Oklahoma Film Critics Circle Awards Top Ten Films Won
Best Actress Helen Mirren Won
Online Film & Television Association Awards Best Picture Nominated [63]
Best Director Stephen Frears Nominated
Best Actress Helen Mirren Won
Best Supporting Actor Michael Sheen Nominated
Best Breakthrough Performance: Male Won
Best Original Screenplay Peter Morgan Won
Best Ensemble Nominated
Best Casting Nominated
Best Costume Design Nominated
Best Makeup and Hairstyling Nominated
Online Film Critics Society Awards Best Actress Helen Mirren Won [64]
Best Original Screenplay Peter Morgan Nominated
Phoenix Film Critics Society Awards Best Actress in a Leading Role Helen Mirren Won [65]
Polish Film Awards Best European Film Stephen Frears Nominated [66]
Political Film Society Awards Democracy Nominated
Exposé Nominated
Producers Guild of America Awards Outstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion Pictures Andy Harries, Christine Langan, and Tracey Seaward Nominated
Robert Awards Best Non-American Film Stephen Frears Nominated [67]
San Diego Film Critics Society Awards Best Actress Helen Mirren Won
San Francisco Film Critics Circle Awards Best Actress Won
Santa Barbara International Film Festival Outstanding Performer of the Year Award Won [68]
Satellite Awards Best Motion Picture – Drama Nominated [69]
Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama Helen Mirren Won
Best Director Stephen Frears Nominated
Best Original Screenplay Peter Morgan Won
Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role Helen Mirren Won [70]
Southeastern Film Critics Association Awards Best Picture 3rd Place [71]
Best Actress Helen Mirren Won
St. Louis Gateway Film Critics Association Awards Best Picture Nominated [72]
Best Director Stephen Frears Nominated
Best Actress Helen Mirren Won
Best Screenplay Peter Morgan Won
Toronto Film Critics Association Awards Best Film Won [73]
Best Director Stephen Frears Won
Best Actress Helen Mirren Won
Best Supporting Actor Michael Sheen Won
Best Screenplay Peter Morgan Won
Utah Film Critics Association Awards Best Actress Helen Mirren Won [74]
Best Supporting Actor Michael Sheen Won
Vancouver Film Critics Circle Awards Best Actress Helen Mirren Won [75]
Venice Film Festival Golden Lion Stephen Frears Nominated [76]
[77]
FIPRESCI Award Won
Best Actress Helen Mirren Won
Golden Osella Peter Morgan Won
Village Voice Film Poll Best Film 4th Place [78]
Best Actress Helen Mirren Won
Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Awards Best Actress Won [79]
Women Film Critics Circle Awards Best Picture About a Woman Won[a] [80]
Best Actress Helen Mirren Won
Women's Image Network Awards Outstanding Lead Actress in a Feature Film Won
World Soundtrack Awards Soundtrack Composer of the Year Alexandre Desplat (also for The Painted Veil) Won [81]
Writers Guild of America Awards Best Original Screenplay Peter Morgan Nominated [82]

Top ten lists

The film appeared on many US critics' top ten lists of the best films of 2006.[83]

Soundtrack

The Queen
Soundtrack album by
Released26 September 2006
Recorded2006
GenreSoundtrack
Length44:27
LabelMilan
Alexandre Desplat chronology
The Singer
(2006)
The Queen
(2006)
The Painted Veil
(2006)

The soundtrack album was released on the Milan label on 26 September 2006. The original score and songs were composed by Alexandre Desplat and performed by the London Symphony Orchestra. The album was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Score. It was also nominated for the BAFTA Award for Best Film Music (it lost to the score of Babel).

No.TitleLength
1."The Queen"2:10
2."Hills of Scotland"2:25
3."People's Princess I"4:08
4."A New Prime Minister"1:55
5."H.R.H."2:22
6."The Stag"1:50
7."Mourning"3:50
8."Elizabeth & Tony"2:04
9."River of Sorrow"1:59
10."The Flowers of Buckingham"2:28
11."The Queen Drives"1:48
12."Night in Balmoral"1:09
13."Tony & Elizabeth"2:06
14."People's Princess II"4:08
15."Queen of Hearts"3:33
16."Libera Me (Verdi)"6:27
Total length:44:27

Notes

  1. ^ Tied with Volver.

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Interviews